PUNXSUTAWNEY — When you can combine efficient shooting and stifling defense together, the combination should spell victory on the basketball court.
The combination was a winner for the Punxsy girls’ basketball squad at home on Friday night. The Lady Chucks hit 14 of 31 tries while forcing the Lady Bison into 19 first-half turnovers for a going away 46-30 victory.
“When you knock down a few jump shots, it gives you confidence. We found the open girl in the first half and shot the ball well,” explained Lady Chucks coach Randy Reitz. “We have played good defense all year. Our bigs did a great job on Clearfield’s two big girls while our guards kept the pressure on their guards.”
The Lady Chucks' victory pushes the club to 5-4 on the season and gives them the season sweep of their District IX foe. Punxsy captured a 39-29 road win in Clearfield on Dec. 17.
The Punxsy point production was spread around, with Alyssa Reitz finishing with top honors of 11 points to go with five helpers.
Anna Horner produced her career-best eight points on four jumpers and two assists of her own.
Taylor Newcome added eight points as well.
Jensen Constantino chipped in six points and an assist. Nicole DiPietro downed five points and had three assists.
Ashley Reitz handed out three assists, stole two balls and had four points.
Forward Allie Fye drew the tough inside assignment of Clearfield’s 6-3 Dakota Farmery, from which she came away with five steals, eight rebounds and one basket.
Shaina Painter rounded out the scoring with two points.
The Lady Bison (2-5) saw Farmery, who had a team-high 15-point night, put in the game’s first attempt only nine seconds into the matchup.
Alyssa Reitz answered right back before Punxsy started to clamp down on the defensive end.
The Lady Chucks defense forced six straight misfires and four turnovers for 10 empty Lady Bison offensive trips over an almost five minute stretch of the first period.
Over the same stretch, Newcome laid in a putback, hit a baseline jumper and added a baseline drive as part of an 8-0 run to go ahead 10-4 at 2:28 in the first and Punxsy would never trail again.
Clearfield pulled to within two points, 10-8, before Horner hit two straight on jumpers in the final minute to go ahead 14-8.
The beginning of the good shooting half continued for Punxsy over the first five minutes of the second frame. The home team connected on six of its first nine shots to break open the contest.
After a Lady Bison three-point play by Farmery, Alyssa Reitz popped a 12-foot baseline jumper. Fye stole ball on the following Clearfield possession, which led to an Ashley Reitz top-of-the-key two-pointer for an 18-11 advantage with 6:42 in the quarter.
Two minutes later, Alyssa Reitz could not find room to pass to either side of her on the top of the key, so she drained a triple as the first part of four-straight made hoops. DiPietro and Alyssa Reitz took turns with the following two outside jumpers.
DiPietro finished the flurry with a right-wing trey for a comfortable 28-13 margin with 3:24 still in the first half.
DiPietro helped extend the difference a minute later when she stole a Clearfield pass and then found Horner under the basket for an easy layup, 30-13. The Lady Bison netted the final three points for the 30-16 intermission score.
Punxsy never let Clearfield back into the game in the second half. Constantino hit a baseline jumper off an Alyssa Reitz pass nine seconds into the third period.
A patient home team offense sealed the eventual win over a late two-minute, third-quarter stretch.
Ahead 32-19, Painter dropped a left corner 15-foot jumper with 2:57 on the clock. After one Lady Bison free throw, Fye missed inside, followed her shot for the rebound and laid the ball up and in.
Immediately on the inbounds pass, Newcome stole the pass and drove right in for another bucket to make it 38-20.
Only a minute later, Ashley Reitz found the bottom of the net off a nice DiPietro pass before Constantino hit a left wing jumper for Punxsy to double up Clearfield, 42-20, with 45 seconds left in the third quarter.
Clearfield was able to edge out a 9-4 final period but was not nearly enough as Punxsy coasted home to the 46-30 victory.
“We were more patient on offense in the second half, and we made Clearfield move more in their zone,” noted the Punxsy coach.
The Lady Chucks, though, can only enjoy the victory for a short time with an extremely tough three-game week ahead of them. Punxsy will host Bishop McCort on Monday night starting at 6 p.m., stay at home to entertain Elk County Catholic on Wednesday evening before traveling to Hollidaysburg next Friday.
“We have three tough ball games. All three are very good defensively, pressure the ball and are well coached,” pointed out Reitz.
The night started well for the home junior varsity Lady Chucks.
After playing a close 16-13 first half, Punxsy shut out Clearfield, 15-0, over the third quarter. The dominant period behind six points from Amber Ward and three points by Emma White propelled the squad to a 43-17 victory.
White was the JV top point scorer with 11 points, with center Hope Bridge a point behind her with 10.
Ward added eight tallies. Ivy Ferko chipped in six points, while both Claire Smith and Morgan Doverspike hit for four points each.